Scholars program shifts gears

By: Hannah Sgambellone ~Staff Writer~

Newswire photo by Hannah Michels | The revised version of the University Scholars program was approved by the Board of Undergraduate Studies but still needs to be cleared by the provost before it becomes official.

Xavier students are no stranger to curriculum changes.

From the addition of GOA and the First Year Seminar programs to the continual shifting of core requirements, students are expected to be versatile and patient as the university changes what it means to obtain a degree. Over the past year, the University Scholars core has fallen under the cosmetic knife of the University Scholars program (USP) Task Force that now emphasizes the flexibility of the new program requirements.

In the past, the HAB, PPP and University Scholars core has been intentionally rigorous; requiring courses such as calculus and honors sections of theology, rhetoric and philosophy.

According to the task force, the prestige and the intensity of the program will remain the same all the while making the curriculum easier for students to complete.

The goal of the program thus far has been to provide students with an intensified, cohesive liberal arts degree. According to Dr. Stephen Yandell, the new leader of the University Scholars program, the changes were made to make the Honors core more accessible to students while upholding the same standard of the previous program.

“Increased flexibility for students became the key mantra embraced by the Task Force,” Yandell said. “We wanted students to have greater choice in what they took and simultaneously double-down on the program’s greatest strength, the Honors courses. We wanted students to benefit from well chosen, lower- enrolled, Honors-filled courses— those courses that pushed thinking, talking and working to deeper levels. We wanted no more upgrades or waivers.”

These changes are, on paper, simple. Students who began schooling in fall of 2014 or earlier will need to complete a minimum of six classes flagged as honors courses, with no specificity to subject.

Students who entered in the fall of 2015 will need to complete any five honors courses as well as an honors seminar labeled “HONORS 300.” This new seminar focuses on an interdisciplinary approach to a particular subject, and the goal of the class is to promote discussion and collaboration among a small group of honors students. This class will need to be completed in junior or senior year.

One of the biggest goals in developing this new curriculum was to make tracking and registering for these classes easier for students.

“In pursuing this flexibility, the Task Force had to remind themselves of all the benefits that came with a new core,” Yandell said. “Specifically, we had to tell ourselves ‘trust the Core; trust the majors; trust the flags’….we ultimately had to pull back and realize that different majors already call on students to do these things. We had to let those programs actually do their intended work. We had to rest easy knowing that all Xavier students will, by virtue of participating in the core, achieve a wide range of learning outcomes already identified by the faculty as crucial for a Xavier degree.”

With the new core implemented in the coming semesters, the university hopes that students will find more clarity in registering for classes.